Posts tagged cherries
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

hungarian sour cherry cake

hungarian sour cherry cake

Well, thank you, dear friends, for such an lovely outpouring of support and enthusiasm! The comments, the emails, the tweets! You are too good to me! I remember the amazing support almost two years ago when I took a little time off and even though it was a tough time for me, your comments and emails made feel really loved and connected to this lovely web of people somewhere out there, reading, and actually caring. Thank you for coming here, and thank you for staying here. I can’t wait to share more of my “hunk” with you!

hungarian sour cherry cake

Considering how lovely you have all been, it seems terribly unfair of me to tell you about sour cherries when they’re done for the season, and all you can really do is just stare at these pictures and bookmark the recipe in hopes of remembering next summer (don’t worry I’ll remind you!). Except, this cake was so good, I just couldn’t let it languish in the depths of my computer for a whole year – it was going to get lonely and would need some company. Besides, I know some of you are quite the industrious types, and probably froze your sour cherries like I did. I do this with cranberries every November. I buy a half a dozen bags and stuff them in the freezer and then make boozy banana bread studded with those gems. Next year, you should do the same with sour cherries. This cake could come in handy on a cold, rainy day when you want to hang out in your house and bake.

hungarian sour cherry cake

Whether or not you froze them this year, I wanted to tell you about this cake so much, I simply couldn’t wait a year. All that excitement of the moment just might fizzle, and excitement is a terrible thing to waste. I bought these cherries in the eleventh hour of the sour cherry season, at a stand at the Union Square Market. The stand appeared to be the only one selling sour cherries, and upon spotting it, I let out a little squeal. I had plans, friends, for these babies. These cherries were going to be baked into a pie that inspired me not just by its lovely top crust design (aren’t circles pretty?), but also by the pre-baked bottom crust (genius!). I had the recipe printed and stuck to my door. I even had a pie crust skulking about the freezer. But then I spied this little winner of a recipe at Saveur and could think of nothing better for these sour cherries than finding themselves surrounded by a whole wheat thin layer of cake. They would look so pretty scattered around.

hungarian sour cherry cake

Some of you might still be wondering what is the big deal about sour cherries. Most of you wondering that have probably never tried them. It’s difficult to put into words what sour cherries are like. My best description of them goes a little something like this: a sour cherry is what a sweet cherry aspires to be. Don’t for a second think that I’m downplaying the glory that a sweet cherry is. But that tart zing, the opalescence, that gentle yield to the touch, the ephemeral, fleeting season – a sour cherry is something of a treasure. Blink – and you’ll miss it.

egg shells hungarian sour cherry cake

We had them abundantly in the summer in Russia, upon our arrival to the US, they were nowhere to be found. Of course, I was too busy lamenting my introduction to Nutella (while we were in Italy) and its absence from the American supermarket shelves to really notice or care about sour cherries’ absence from the produce landscape. It wasn’t until a few years later, when my family and I went to visit their friends in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and took a road trip through the Michigan countryside, that I rediscovered sour cherries again. There were numerous stands by the side of the road offering travelers pints of sour cherries and freshly hot-smoked trout. To this day, one of my favorite meals remains this trout, mixed with cold, boiled potatoes we brought with us on the road, and sour cherries for dessert. I had forgotten how tart and delicious they were.

hungarian sour cherry cake hungarian sour cherry cake

When I finally got around to my batch of frozen and pitted cherries, I was feeling rather bold, and decided to give the recipe a major overhaul, swapping out enough ingredients to create a recipe distinctively different from its original creation. I still credit Saveur with the inspiration, which goes a long long way. I decided to stick with wheat flour and only wheat flower; I scaled back the sugar, because I always prefer my everyday cakes to err on the less-sweet side. Out went the kirsch, and in went creme de cassis – I’ve got nothing against kirsch, but I wanted something with a more berry-like zing, and creme de cassis sings so beautifully in desserts. Have you ever had creme de cassis? Smelled it? It’s intoxicating – I am always tempted to pour a bit over a “boule” of vanilla ice cream, because it’s really one of the best things ever. And also, in the spirit of full disclosure, I realized I was flat out of kirsch, and felt a bit lazy having to walk over two whole blocks while all my ingredients sat neatly in a mise en place. In my last throes of creativity I decided to use buttermilk instead of regular milk the original recipe called for. I find that buttermilk yields a more tender crumb in a cake, and who doesn’t like a tender crumb?

hungarian sour cherry cake

This is a hearty cake – the whole wheat gives it heft and body, and the berries make the batter shine. But here’s the rub – this cake would be a perfect breakfast cake over coffee on a crisp, rainy fall day. So, don’t despair if sour cherries are out of season, throw some blueberries in it. Or, I wonder, how will this cake taste with some thinly sliced apples, sprinkled with cinnamon? I bet you it’ll be perfect. You really can’t go wrong!

hungarian sour cherry cake

I made this a week ago and a bunch of us, my plus one included (should I tell you his name?) ate it for dessert and there was still lots of the cake left over, (this makes a lot of cake, so be sure to invite friends over!) and then (and this part here is tragic and my lower lip quivers as I type this), then we forgot about the cake and it sat in the fridge for over a week until I discovered it again, but by then it had gone bad and needed to be tossed. But I can’t bring myself to do it. Sour cherries! I worked so hard for them! All the pitting and freezing and unfreezing! Sigh. I’ll have to dispose of the cake tonight. Most likely with a proper burial, followed by moment of silence. And perhaps a somber song or a poem.

hungarian sour cherry cake

Continue reading hungarian sour cherry cake.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

sweet cherry pie

sweet cherry pie

Move over, apple pie, you’ve got serious competition as far as I’m concerned. I know I once pledged my undying love for you, but that was before cherry pie and I had made acquaintance. I really didn’t expect it to be this good, but I must say, I’m over the moon here.

sweet cherries

Granted, sour cherries is really where it’s at, but I missed the sour cherry season, because while other folks were busy making sour cherry treats, I was busy looking for an apartment, then packing, then moving, then unpacking. And by the time I pulled my baking gear out of boxes, sour cherries were gone, done for the season, and instead these sweet ones were all over the place.

this pitter is a life-saver!

Not to be deterred, I decided to give these sweet cherries a whirl in a pie. And to up the ante further, I picked the hottest, most humid of days to do so. Yes, I like an extra challenge, why do you ask?

no more pits!no more crust fear!

I’ve written about my thoughts on making a successful crust here, but I’d like to reiterate the cold factor one more time. It’s incredibly important to achieve a flaky crust, but in summer weather when you have 100% humidity and 90 degree weather, cold should be the manifesto with which you set out to make the crust. I kept my rolling pin, bowl of flour and butter in the freezer for this to make sure I kept my ingredients as chilled as possible. My one gripe is that butter, when kept in the freezer, will crumble under the knife, instead of making perfect little cubes. I’m a sucker for those perfect little cubes – even if they’re seconds way from being blended with the flour into pea sized bits.

sweet cherry pie

A few years ago, I attempted a pie crust on what turned out to be the hottest day in all of the summer season. And you know, that totally scorched me. I couldn’t come near a pie crust recipe, let alone try and measure out my ingredients. All, I want to say here is that if I conquered my fears and delivered, in this pie, my most successful, flakiest crust to date (and it was anti-crust weather), you can do it too. Just work quickly with determination. Like I said in my latest pie post, pie crust smells fear – and you are stronger than the pie crust!

sweet cherry pie

I loved the filling idea from Deb at Smitten Kitchen and so adapted it for the pie here. But I stuck with the sweeter version of my usual pie crust, which I wrote about when I made the Honey Bourbon Caramel Peach Pie – it’s the same pie crust as you might find in many books, but with two teaspoons of sugar instead of the usual one.

sweet cherry pie

So while the cherries are plentiful and inexpensive and we still have a month of summer left, find the time for this pie – if you make your crust in advance and chill it, it’s a cinch – and a delicious one at that.

cherry pie

Continue reading sweet cherry pie.